The man I met in Panjim

Tripoto
Photo of The man I met in Panjim by Indrajeet Milind More

I don't know his name. Neither I dared to ask him.

Last week I was at Panjim for a shoot. We were shooting a video about the people and lifestyle of Fontainhas, One of the oldest Latin quarters of Goa. Beautiful, colored houses. Quiet, rather calm, aesthetic alleys. None had a third floor. The white Chapel was the tallest among all, certainly due to it's huge bell. It still had heavy doors of slipper wood with iron rings and latch attached. For a moment one wouldn't even believe it's in India. Portuguese doctors, merchants, teachers, officers, artists once lived here. People here don't have to catch trains, a boss to report, rents to pay. Certainly, Fontainhas is a La La Land. I realized, I mistook them people for not having anything to worry about, after I met him.

It was afternoon, the time when Goans enjoy their Siesta, and we were finished shooting the Chapel. Tired, we sat near a well just besides the white Chapel and blue house of Mr. Alirio De Costa. There were still some shots left but it was hard to work in that hot, humid, lazy afternoon. The rice and shrimp curry we had made us more lethargic. My mind was too lazy to think about anything else and preferred to just enjoy the calmness. That is when three of us heard a loop being played on Violin, Softly. I can never forget those notes... since it was the only sound audible. Rest every thing was quite.

" It's the same guy we saw at the bakery " said Maria.

" He does that every day, wearing same clothes. Nobody knows why, nobody even dares to ask. He's quite temperamental." She continued.

Among those freshly painted vibrant bunglows, stood a very old, weak, pale colored and rustic house. This old man stood at a window near the gate, wearing ragged out shorts, and inner linens... Threadbare. It made him look more older... Just like his untuned violin. The same person we saw wearing posh formals at the bakery was there at the window with his violin, in those worn out clothes.

Surely he must've got some dark story I thought. I walked in and stood near the window, listening his music. I smiled at him, he smiled back.

"Are you from here?" He enquired

"No sir" I replied

"Where then?"

"Mumbai"

"Is it so?" And he continued with his music. I walked away.

Maria said, I was lucky that he let me stand near his window and talk. Nobody gets to do so. I was very interested in his story.

Next day I set out to take some extra footage. As I was crossing through the same lane, I again heard the violin. Same person, same loop, same clothes, same spot. I stood and enjoyed his music for some time and started to leave?

"Is that a camera?" He stopped me and asked.

"Yes it is. Would you mind if I shoot you playing?"

"Sorry no"

He then went inside and came up with a photo frame in his hand, I who had almost lost all hopes of getting to know him was amazed by his enthusiasm in showing that frame. He wasn't clear but, he tried hard to say something. There was a couple with a baby in the frame. Must be his son or daughter.

"It's nice"

"Come in I show you more!" he insisted.

From no angle he seemed the guy Maria described. Temperamental? He just invited me in his house. Here I got to see him clearly, his house too it was shady and old as any other crooked old man's mansion. Cotton popped out of the bed, damaged walls, various collage art pieces hanging on the walls with dusty frames.

"Do you live here alone?" I asked.

"Yes. My brother from Germany has come here for some days" He somehow manage to speak.

"And your son? Who's is the photograph?"

He stood shut. There surely must've been something very strong and harsh in his life, that he kept as a secret. Somehow he tried opening up to me but then there was something that kept him in the same phase.

"You do this everyday?"

"Yes"

"Since?"

"Since I was 7"

"Great... And why do you play the same tune?"

"This one is my favorite, I keep practicing it."

"Nice..." *Silence*

When there was nothing else to say, I took his leave. Did not wanted to disturb him and his siesta, he too said goodbye with a big wide smile which was probably very rare. Back at office, Maria looked at me as if I just discovered fire as I told her about him. Still, I'm happy that at least for those 10 - 15 mins the old man had a good time with a smile on his wrinkled face.

-Indrajeet

Jan 2019

*Siesta - Famous word for afternoon nap time in Goa

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